Turdblossom, Meet the Original "Shit in a Silk Stocking"
Whenever I am tempted to despair at the worldly success of men like Karl Rove, I shall remind myself that President Bush's beloved "Turdblossom" is only at the top of the heap for a few months more, 657 days at this counting. Thoreau tells us to "read not the times, but the eternities", and a look at the career of the 19th century diplomat Talleyrand shows us that the Bush minions are mere amateurs, and failed amateurs at that, when it comes to kissing up to power, squeezing out the profits, then dropping your patron like a used wrapper and ducking out the back door a moment before the cops arrive. An excellent profile of Talleyrand here at The New Criterion inspired these reflections.
Rove is despised by two-thirds of the country, and hangs on to power only by the indulgence of his boss and staying a step ahead of the hounds. Talleyrand, by comparison, kept the mass of men bamboozled as to his true motives, and even on the occasions when he had to skip town, never missed a meal or a paycheck-- then switched sides and was back in business with the same people who'd been calling for his head.
Napoleon called him "shit in a silk stocking", which outdoes "Turdblossom" as a lasting sobriquet. Talleyrand could take a bite out of your donut and be wiping the powdered sugar from his lips while asking with a straight face, "Donut? What donut?"
He did get off some good lines about power, politics and human nature:
"War is too serious to be left to military men."
"They [the aristocracy] remember everything and learn nothing."
Apt to our purpose today, "I am more afraid of an army of 100 sheep led by a lion than an army of 100 lions led by a sheep."
and out-Roving Rove, “Since the masses are always eager to believe something, for their benefit nothing is so easy to arrange as facts.”
... But never forget he was a shitheel, through and through, who got a lot of other people killed and profited enormously to the end of his days. He died in bed aged eighty-three, still collecting paychecks from both sides. Like Meyer Lansky, Talleyrand was a successful gangster, unlike the flashier failures like Capone and Napoleon, who both made headlines but died in prison with the clap.